ECB calls off introductory tours for political parties and NC aspiring candidates

The Election Commission of Bhutan carried out a co-ordination meeting from 30th to 31st January 2023 in Samtse to review and coordinate various programme and activities being undertaken and planned towards the conduct of the Fourth National Council Elections, 2023 (Pic: ECB)

Introductory tour and social should stop by 31 January.

KARMA CHIMI | Thimphu

An introductory tour for political parties, especially for new political parties and aspiring candidates for National Council (NC) is brought to halt by the Election Commission of Bhutan (ECB).

The Commission had notified on 14 January that the election campaign will be permitted only after the issuance of a Royal Decree.

The ECB notified as per Section 268 of the Election Act; election campaigns shall be permitted only after the issuance of notification calling elections. The provision states: “The election campaign shall be permitted to commence from the date of issue of notification by a Royal Decree calling an election as announced, or notified in the case of Local Government elections by the Election Commission and end forty-eight hours prior to the hour fixed for the commencement of poll for the election.”

The notification applies strictly to newly registered political parties and aspiring NC candidates who were on a familiarization tour in the Dzongkhags or in the constituencies.

It also applied to registered political parties and candidates who were in their constituencies to meet their coordinators and supporters. Any other individuals, including the members of political parties, are not allowed to visit constituencies for familiarization.

ECB shall strictly deal with the matter in accordance with the provisions of the electoral laws, including the new rules titled, “Rules on Elections Conduct in the Kingdom of Bhutan, 2022,” in the event of any violation as per the notification.

The Dzongkhag Election Authority shall closely monitor the activities carried out by the political parties, candidates, and individuals.

ECB also clarified that social and religious events may be conducted or organized until the end of January 2023.

There was widespread confusion about whether social and religious events could be conducted or not in the period leading up to the NC elections, in

2023.

In the event there are religious or social events planned from February to May 2023, ECB notified that all are requested to either prepone or defer them, with the exception of the annual Dzongkhag Tshechus.

From the date of issuance of notification calling the NC elections, in 2023, all social and religious activities shall be closely monitored by the Dzongkhag Election Authorities. In the event of other annual calendar events or compelling needs, concerned institutions or individuals must submit applications and obtain approval.

In the case of such compelling situations, the concerned institution or individual shall seek approval from the respective Dzongkhag Election Authority. The Dzongkhag Chief Election Coordinator shall review the applications, on a case-by-case basis, and accord a decision, as deemed necessary.

Meanwhile, Bhutan Tendrel Party has covered only a few dzongkhags while Druk Thuendrel Tshogpa has covered almost all dzongkhags.